Where Did Everybody Go?
Michael Ubaldi, July 6, 2010.
Anne Applebaum looks up, declares democracy in trouble and references a heavily revised historical account:
By every measure, the world's autocrats have become more entrenched over the past decade. Countries as disparate as Russia, Venezuela and Iran have become adept at using the rhetoric of "democracy" — along with faked elections, phony political parties, even state-controlled "civil society" organizations — to deflect pressure for change.
Recall that "the past decade" was nearly half-spent witnessing daring outbursts and full-fledged movements carried out by liberals in response to the deposition of the Taliban and Iraqi Ba'athists. As recently as 2005, men with no love for America — let alone George W. Bush — credited the Bush doctrine for their advances, such as Walid Jumblatt who admitted "[T]his process of change has started because of the American invasion of Iraq."
In fact, oppressed peoples of the world do look to the people and leaders of the United States for validation of ideals whose self-evidence, for them, is often in question. When did the tide begin to ebb? 2006. When Bush's political opposition, determined to discredit the occupation of Iraq and personally denigrate its commander-in-chief, seized a cardinal domestic victory in the wake of Hurricane Katrina — whether the president deserved it or not — the resulting traducement shattered the last of American unity on an intolerance for authoritarianism and the bizarre, totalitarian fanatics its stifling desperation breeds.
The men against whom the United States would "impose democracy by force," the cadres of secret police, roughnecks and wage-earning psychopaths, realized that the enemies of their enemy would, through the rule of law, occlude any measures to defeat them. They could return to the business of autocratic cruelty. Why worry when powerless assemblies — approved by an American president who shows more animadversion against markets and industry than juntas and regimes, himself invested in the "silly argument" against Iraq — will "condemn abusers" and do nothing else?
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